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If I allowed my picture to be used in a newspaper once,are others allowed to use it on their website?

Brandon, FL |

I agreed to be featured in one article. Now other pictures are in a second article,and also someone else's website. It's embarrassing,and something I wanted to forget.Even though the Newspaper-(not the Tampa,Fl.)-sent the photographer,don't I have any rights at all? How many times do they get to exploit me?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    You say, "Now other pictures are in a second article...." If you didn't give permission to use these "other pictures," then they have no right to use them. Consult with an attorney.

    This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney. I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin. Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.

  2. You likely gave up your right to privacy as to that picture when you let it be put in newspaper. You do not own the copyright since the paper's photographer, not you, took the picture. You likely have no right of publicity claim unless it is being used commercially to promote goods or services, which does not appear to be the case. You likely have to trademark related to the picture that you could assert.

    So, it does not appear to me you have any rights to stop this. However, that does not mean you cannot raise a reasonable complaint, particularly if any of the facts you have not told us militate in your favor. So, if this is important to you, see an Intellectual Property Lawyer, preferably one licensed in FL, ask for a free initial consultation, and let that attorney see if he or she can find a reasonable grounds based in fact and law on which to raise a complaint or objection. Once you give away permission, unless you set a limit on the number of times is could be used, they get to "exploit you" an infinite number of times. See why we say see an attorney before you make deals involving intellectual property right? This could have been easily prevented by an IP attorney.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

  3. Copyright in the photograph is owned by the photographer and, thus, you have no copyright claim. However, in most states, individuals have rights of publicity and privacy. I do not practice in Florida so you would need to retain Florida counsel to advise you on the status of Florida law. However, you have an uphill battle here. If your photograph appeared in an article that was newsworthy in a newspaper, then other articles elsewhere on the same subject are also newsworthy and use of the photographs probably would be protected by the First Amendment and the doctrine of fair use (which incorporates the First Amendment into intellectual property law). Your only hope would be to establish that your image and reputation was being used to promote a particular product commercially, which would violate your right of publicity. The most common right of publicity claims involve celebrities whose images or photographs are wrongly used to endorse products or services without the approval of the celebrity.

    Even if you have a valid right of publicity claim, you will have to prove that you have been damaged economically. This is easy for a famous celebrity--who can show what he has been paid by other companies for comparable promotional activities. If you are not a celebrity who has been paid in the past for such endorsements, it is harder to prove damages. You would have to show what persons in the industry would ordinarily be paid for providing such an endorsement (if anything). Alternatively, you could show that you lost business or job opportunities with other companies. But mere embarrassment is not enough to establish economic injury. These cases are expensive to litigate--I doubt that a lawyer would take your case on a contingency, which would mean that you would have to pay legal fees to pursue this matter. Only you can decide to weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing these claims, but you should make such a decision on an informed basis after retaining and consulting with legal counsel.

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